It all seemed so exciting back at the end of primary school, with open days, visits and talks of wearing safety glasses in the science labs.
However, the big day has come and gone and we’re a week or so into the new term and the shine has definitely gone off the experience.
The step up to secondary school is enormous, so it isn’t surprising that some youngsters find the adjustment very difficult and seem to be utterly miserable for the first few weeks of term.
If your child claims to hate school or just seems out of sorts here are a few suggestions.
Listen patiently: Take their concerns seriously but don’t be in too much of a rush to offer advice. For some people all it takes is time.
Let them rest: A new environment is exhausting. Make allowances. Plenty of sleep can work wonders – as can making sure they’re eating properly.
Help them get organised: Secondary pupils have to take responsibility for themselves – where they are supposed to be and which books and equipment they are meant to have with them. For some this comes easily, but others will find it a huge strain. Help them learn how to be organised, for example getting into the habit of sorting out everything the night before.
Make sure they have the kit they need: It might be their lives will be easier if they have certain things. A watch, for example, helps if you have to be places on time, or a mobile phone if they are anxious about travelling to and from school.
Support their homework: As the pace increases, so does the homework. Some children can find it helpful to have a calm place and time set aside to do their work. Plus a gentle reminder to get on with it. Encouraging them to do it as they get it rather than waiting until the deadline can ease some pressure too.
What if something goes wrong?: Talk through what might happen in the event of a minor mishap, such as missing the bus. If your child knows who to ask for help or where to go, it can make them feel much better.
Let them know they don’t have to grow up before they are ready: Some youngsters find being surrounded by older children terrifying. The idea that they will soon be expected to act like the fifth and sixth year pupils can be incomprehensible. All they need to know is that they are fine as they are and not to try to rush, by the time they are old enough it will come more naturally.
Speak to school: While most teething troubles are just that, don’t hesitate to contact school if you have real concerns. They have seen it all before and should be able to help with your son or daughter’s problem.
Keep talking: I know this was at the start of the list, but this is crucial. Keep giving your new secondary pupil a chance to let you know how they are feeling and reassure them that you are there for them.